The Role of Activism in 2020: Climate Change Advocacy

By The Alliance for Climate Change and the Environment (ACE)

This podcast features a speaker panel of experts and leaders in the field climate change. They discuss what environmental advocacy looks like one year after the monumental Climate Change protests in 2019, while also considering the backdrop of 2020.

The panel then reviewed rollbacks and changes in regulations that took place under the current Administration, as well as individual states’ activities and responses to those actions. They discussed how activism in 2020 has been shaped by ongoing unprecedented events and challenges of getting the Green New Deal legislation passed in Congress

Panelist include Janiece Watts of Fresh Energy, Ben Longstreth of NRDC, and Joe Hobbs of Fridays for Future. They will explore how to best to combat Climate Change through an activism lens particularly while we are still living through a global pandemic.

The panel is moderated by Carolyn Kissane, Clinical Professor at NYU School of Professional Studies.


[0:00] Welcome from Gioia Kennedy, NYU Wagner student and Chair of ACE,

[00:24] Gioia Kennedy reads The Alliance for Climate Change and Environment’s mission statement,

[1:40] Matt Minner, NYU Wagner student and Co-events Chair of ACE, introduces the speakers and moderator,

[5:48] Dr. Carolyn Kissane begins the panel discussion,

[7:07] Ben Longstreth discuss his work as a climate advocate,

[11:16] Janiece Watts explains her path to activism,

[18:44] Joe Hobbs walks us through his passion for climate activism at such a young age.

Guest Speakers

Ben Longstreth, who is part of NRDC’s climate team, advocates and litigates for the greenhouse gas pollution standards that are urgently needed to curb the impact of global climate change. Before joining NRDC, he was an attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice. Longstreth holds a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and a JD from Columbia University. He is based in Washington, D.C.

Janiece Watts, a policy associate with the Energy Access and Equity program, plays a key role that is working to advance equitable outcomes across Minnesota’s energy system. Her current projects include the Saint Paul Property-Dweller Property-Owner Energy Project, a unique, joint partnership with Community Stabilization Project, and collaborative work with environmental justice groups to improve air quality and reduce demand for oil through electrification of transportation. Janiece joined the Fresh Energy team in August 2018. Before joining Fresh Energy, Janiece worked as a community engagement manager for Eureka Recycling where she developed strategies on zero waste and environmental justice. She is an established organizer working for racial and environmental justice through outreach, events, community meetings, and political action in the Twin Cities for over ten years.

Joe Hobbs is a 17-year-old youth climate activist who is part of Fridays for Future DC, Fridays for Future USA, and Fridays for Future International. He has worked extensively at the national level of Fridays for Future on a variety of tasks, ranging from social media to partnerships to planning nationwide strikes. Joe has helped plan multiple deep strikes, bringing millions of people together worldwide to fight for climate justice. Joe also believes strongly in personal action, because everything we do starts at a personal level. He wants to show everyone that no matter how young or old you are, you can help the environment. No action is ever too small.


Dr. Carolyn Kissane serves as the Academic Director of the graduate program in Global Affairs at the Center for Global Affairs and is a Clinical Associate Professor where she teaches graduate level courses examining the geopolitics of energy, comparative energy politics, energy, environment and resource security, a regional course focusing on Central Asia. She is Coordinator of the Energy and Environment concentration at the Center and is faculty adviser to the Energy Policy International Club. Dr. Kissane was awarded the esteemed NYU Excellence in Teaching Award in 2007, the SCPS Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009, and nominated for the NYU-wide Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008, 2009 and 2016.

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